ESPN released their post-spring practice power rankings for the SEC, and they aren’t too high on the Vols heading into the summer.
According to ESPN’s rankings, Tennessee is the sixth-best team in the SEC and the third-best team in the SEC East. ESPN’s rankings put the Vols behind Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, and Georgia.
The article doesn’t offer much in the way of analysis for the Vols’ No. 6 spot, but it did offer some optimism for Vol fans despite the somewhat unflattering ranking:
Lowered expectations coupled with a relatively soft nonconference schedule (Georgia Tech, Indiana State, UMass, Southern Miss) could mean a bounce-back season of sorts for the Vols. Quinten Dormady’s 10-for-10 passing performance during the spring game gave reason for hope as well.
The Vols may have a somewhat favorable schedule this season (at least for an SEC schedule), but having to replace Josh Dobbs at quarterback and a slew of other starters on both sides of the ball will be tough to do. And by ESPN’s logic, the Vols will finish third in the SEC East this season. That would be the worst finish in the division for Tennessee since 2014.
This isn’t the first time this young offseason that ESPN has projected the Vols to finish behind Georgia and Florida in the East. ESPN’s Football Power Index also has Tennessee third in the division despite finishing with a better overall record (9-3) than last season.
Tennessee was the media darling last year in the SEC East, and many analysts and media members were picking them to win the division. This season, however, is a completely different story. The perception around the Vols this year isn’t as flattering as last season, and that’s reflected in polls and rankings such as this.